40 Countries Later…

When I first started travelling as a hobby, I never would have thought I would end up visiting so many amazing places! On Saturday 9th March I crossed overland from Italy into Slovenia, making it my 40th visited country!

Although certain things have not gone exactly to plan on some of the trips I have been on (delayed transport, lost luggage and overrated attractions to name a few things!) I try to look at the positives when in a new place and really try everything the place has to offer!

In this pretty beefy post I am going to give a bit of insight into what I have been up to in all of these places I have visited and my opinion whilst I was there.

#1 – Spain – First visited 1998

Since my first trip to Minorca in 1998 when I was 5 years old, I have spent the equivalent of half a year as a tourist in Spain! Every summer as a family we would visit one of the resorts along the Costa Brava and as a result we have made quite a few friends from revisiting over the years! I have also visited Benidorm twice with mates, the last time was in 2018 where we saw the opening of the world cup!

#2 – France – First visited 2002

Due to a family member having a severe phobia of flying we used to overland through the UK and France all the way to Spain for our summer holiday, so most of my time spent in France has merely been on its motorways and boarding the ferries to Dover or the EuroTunnel to Folkestone from Calais. I did however visit Boulogne-Sur-Mer with school in 2006 although I don’t really have much memory of what we actually did!

#3 – Greece – First visited 2014

My first holiday with my mates! We visited the party resort of Kavos on the island of Corfu as part of an 18-30s Holiday (cringe), the resort and the hotel we were staying in were a dump, there were open drains and stray dogs everywhere!

We visited Malia a year later and the place wasn’t as bad, but we visited in the middle of the 2015 Greek Debt Crisis so everything was crazy expensive and the locals were just desperate to get as much money out of you as they could! still it was a great holiday with a good bunch of mates and we still talk about that holiday now!

#4 – Czech Republic – Visited 2016

One of the best things to come out of the Czech Republic, the beer! Taken in Prague, Czech Republic – © Lewis Pickthall – 2016

My first city break! I visited Prague with my mates and just fell in love with the place! Its a stunning city with so some many good photo spots, but the best thing you do is get your hands on is the beer and it is so cheap its unreal!

One of the days we went in a bar called ‘The Beer Museum’ it has a long bar with a continuous row of beer taps and you tend to order a palette of 12 0.3l beers. We had gone in just before dinner and gone left to right down this huge bar trying every beer they had on tap, by early afternoon we were steaming!

It is a great city to visit with loads going on, one thing I seriously recommend doing in Prague is getting on a bar crawl as it is a good laugh if you are doing it with a few mates, but even if you are solo it is good to do as well, its surprising who you can meet on one too!

#5 – Bulgaria – Visited 2016

Visited Sunny Beach with some mates in August 2016. This was a trip that we had booked last minute and at a decent price. Having heard of Sunny Beach from the TV show ‘What Happens in Sunny Beach’ which documents the place for its binge drinking and ‘what ever goes’ attitude I thought I knew what I would expect to see before I got there, but even that didn’t really prepare me.

The place is a dump! There are gypsies and stray dogs wandering around everywhere (even worse than Kavos), in addition the Bulgarian Mafia are very visible in the resort and you see them driving around the resort in a convoy of blacked out SUV’s.

The only positive that I got out of the place was that is was dirt cheap! With the Bulgarian Lev being about 0.5LV to a £1, everything was basically half price to us Brits, so it was a cheap holiday! Doubt I would go back to Bulgaria and definitely wouldn’t go back to Sunny Beach anytime soon!

#6 – Germany – First visited 2016

In many parts of Berlin, sections of the Berlin Wall remain intact, there is a large section kept in place with the no mans land areas at the Berlin Wall memorial, in Berlin, Germany – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Visited Germany a couple of times, but the first time was in 2016 and I visited Munich for Oktoberfest, the greatest beer festival in the world! Its an expensive trip but worth every penny.

Besides the beer and the craic, the live bands make the festival what it is and the songs they play. One wet afternoon ‘Its Raining Men’ was played in one of the tents which got everyone in a good mood and at the end of the last night we were there Robbie Williams ‘Angels’ was played and everyone in the place was up on the tables!

#7 – Poland – First visited 2017

The view down the train tracks to the station of Birkenau Concentration Camp, about an hour’s drive from Krakow, Poland – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

Visited Poland several times and I really like the country and the people. Although the people are generally quite quiet, they are really friendly when you speak to them. Visited Krakow the first time with mates, during which we visited the Auschwitz concentration camp and then second time on my cousins stag do. It is one of the best places to go to for a stag do, the beer and vodka is unbelievably cheap!

On my cousins stag do we went into this student bar and it cost 50PLN (about £12) for a decent sized bottle of flavoured vodka, over the course of a couple of hours we had bought about 20 of these bottles and had them lined up along the side!

#8 – Thailand – Visited 2017

The stunning view from a wooden boat on the water of Khao Sok national park in Thailand! This  is only a couple of hours away from Surat Thani which we arrived into after an overnight train from Bangkok – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

My first solo trip away! I decided if I was going to do a solo trip I wanted to really go for it and head to somewhere quite far away, after seeing the GAdventures: ‘Bangkok to Singapore’ tour on the STATravel website, I immediately booked it!

I remember flying into Bangkok and being a bit shell shocked from the madness going on around me! As I travelled with the group out into the countryside I was really able to take in this amazing country and the really friendly people. Visiting the capital and the coast has made me want to go back, but next time visit the north of the country.

#9 – Malaysia – Visited 2017

The amazing view from one of the many sky bars that surround the Petronas Towers site in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

My first solo trip away! I decided if I was going to do a solo trip I wanted to really go for it and head to somewhere quite far away, after seeing the GAdventures: ‘Bangkok to Singapore’ tour on the STATravel website, I immediately booked it!

Having spent just short of a week with the group that I met in Bangkok we had crossed overland into Malaysia, having never been to such a humid place before the first couple of days in George Town, Penang were a little bit of struggle, due to the battle with the heat. Luckily 7Elevens are everywhere and the super powerful AC they have inside lets you get a break from it all! The country is an incredible mix of all nationalities, which is reflected in the cuisine! Next time would like to visit Malaysian Borneo and maybe Brunei

#10 – Singapore – Visited 2017

The jaw dropping view from the top of the observation deck of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in downtown Singapore! – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

My first solo trip away! I decided if I was going to do a solo trip I wanted to really go for it and head to somewhere quite far away, after seeing the GAdventures: ‘Bangkok to Singapore’ tour on the STATravel website, I immediately booked it!

I was only in Singapore for an overnight visit as it was the final place on the end of my tour, the last night as a group we went up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and onto the sky deck an unforgettable sight! The end of the trip has really given me a buzz that lasted for weeks and when I had come back to the UK it has made me realise that I want to do more of these type of trips!

#11 – Qatar – First visited 2017

The view of the Doha skyline from across the bay, in Doha, Qatar – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I have transited through Doha Hamad International Airport a few times, however the first time returning back to the UK as a result of a late take off from Singapore Changi airport I had missed my connecting flight back to Manchester. Due to this missed connection being at the fault of the airline, QatarAirways put me up in this 5 star hotel in Doha for the night, it was amazing! Although I was only able to enjoy it for about 6 hours before catching a lift back to the airport to get the next flight to Manchester.

When visiting Vietnam in 2018, I purposely opted for a long layover so I could take advantage of a 3 hour transit tour of Doha and visit the some of the main sites. The place is absolutely spotless, even on the highway from the airport to the city centre, there was not a spec of rubbish or graffiti anywhere!

#12 – Hungary – Visited 2017

The view from the highest point in Budapest, with Buda to the left, the Danube river in the middle and Pest to the right – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

Visited Budapest with my mates in 2017, having come back from my 2 weeks out in South East Asia I was still on a bit of travel buzz and it didn’t stop by time I had gone out to Hungary only a couple of days later. Budapest is a really smart city, but it is more spread out than expected. Hungary’s crazy currency the Forint is quite weak against the £ so you can have a really good weekend in the city and not spend very much!

The Ruin bars are a must when visiting the capital and they give a really alternative option to just normal bars. We went into this one smaller ruin bar and it had something that resembled a cauldron hanging from above the bar, it was a shot of something so ridiculously strong that I don’t think my tastebuds have recovered since!

Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the Sparty that was going on as we didn’t get the tickets in time, but would definitely want to go back to do it in the future!

#13 – Croatia – Visited 2017

One of the other 50 foot sailings yachts that was sailing in our flotilla from Split to Dubrovnik, Croatia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

In September 2017 I travelling from Split to Dubrovnik on a 50ft sailing yacht! Over a week I along with a group, started and finished at the two points above while island hopping between. Absolutely loved Croatia, the place is stunning and sea is so clear and the colour of it is something that I have never seen before!

Living on a yacht for a week is such a good experience, but for someone like me whose really tall it can be quite cramped in some parts of the yacht. It was great just chilling on the yacht during a hot day watching the world go by.

Would definitely visit Croatia again, instead opting to visit Zagreb. I would choose another MedSailors sailing holiday, who I travelled on the water with!

#14 – Bosnia & Herzegovina – Visited 2017

This ones a bit of a debatable one… My Croatian sailing route took me from Split to Dubrovnik, however because I had return flights from Split, I had to travel back up there by road from Dubrovnik, if you have ever looked on a map of Croatia you will notice that a tiny piece of Bosnia and Herzegovina goes out to the coast, this is called the Nuem Corridor and it is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s only piece of coastline.

Due to Bosnia and Herzegovina not being in the EU and therefore not being in the Schengen when you drive along the coastal road from Dubrovnik to Split or visa versa you have to cross a hard border, you then travel through the country for about 10 minutes, passing through a town called Nuem before reaching another hard border and then you are back in Croatia!

Although some would say I only transited through, I did actually pass through an international border point (twice… in 10 minutes!) and therefore entered the country. I do have plans in the future to visit the country properly in the future though, including visiting Mostar and Sarajevo!

#15 – Belgium – First visited 2017

The Grand Place square lit up at night in Brussels, Belgium! – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

Shortly after getting back from Croatia, I was having a play on SkyScanner scoping out flights for pretty much anywhere and noticed an incredibly cheap flight to Belgium (Charleroi) from Manchester for £9.99! When looking into it a bit more it was also £9.99 to get back as well! one flight was in the morning and one was in the evening, so I visited Brussels as a day trip!

I was actually in Brussels itself for about 11 hours, but with the waiting at airports, flying and driving from home to the airport it was more like a 20 hour day in the end!

The Grand Place and some of the gardens are very nice, but I found Brussels to be a bit of a ghetto and quite overrated for a capital city, there is also a lot of gangs that hang around the train station and also in some of the areas and made walking around at night a bit uncomfortable, even in the main touristy areas.

All together when factoring in cost of my flights, airport transfers, airport parking, fuel and some money for some dinner my day trip came to just over £100!

#16 – Iceland – Visited 2017

The view from the top of the Hallgrimskrikja in Reykjavic, Iceland – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

I had wanted to visit Iceland for so long after studying the country when doing my A-Level Geography course at Sixth Form! I went between Christmas and New Year 2017 when the country was very much an Ice-Land!

I spent a couple of days in Reykjavik which has some pretty cool sites and some great bars to go in! I met a couple of America co-workers up there and we had a night out in the capital! Not a cheap place for a night out but well worth the experience, the Icelandic are also an interesting bunch to drink with also!

On one of the full days I took a day trip to the Blue Lagoon and visited the Golden Circle area, both were absolutely incredible to see. One of the issues however when visiting in the winter is you are racing against daylight and it gets very dark early!

An absolutely incredible country that I will make sure I go back and revisit!

#17 – Luxembourg – Visited 2018

The view from the main castle in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. The city is split into two parts by a deep ravine – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

Having booked the same flights I used to get to Brussels but with a day difference, myself and a friend visited Luxembourg City for an overnight trip in January 2018. We flew into Charleroi again and then got a return FlixBus coach into Luxembourg City.

The historic part of the capital is a really nice place with bridges and via ducts connecting the two parts of the city together as a deep valley separates it. However the  main city centre high street pretty much just consists of bank after bank after bank!

Having seen the very few sights, we did what most UK tourists do and got on the beer! In all honestly if you are thinking of visiting Luxembourg, I would seriously not plan to spend that much here as there isn’t a great deal to do.

#18 – Ukraine – Visited 2018

The Chernobyl disaster memorial with the power plant with its containment shield fitted in the background in Chernobyl, Ukraine – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

View of the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant, with its newly built and installed radiation containment shield, the power plant is about 2 hours drive from Kiev, Ukraine and is only accessible to tourists through an approved tour company – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I was browsing on ViaTour one a wet January day and noticed that you could go and visit the Chernobyl Nuclear PowerPlant as part of an organised tour. Speaking to a friend and kind of jokingly saying ‘should we go?’ before we knew it we on the first of 2 flights to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

Kiev itself is a really interesting city and due to visiting after the occupation of Crimea by Russia was very politically charged! As you walk down the streets you see a lot of scraps of Russian tanks with that the Ukrainian Army have seized with signs condemning the movements of Russia. There is also anti Russian propaganda on every street.

Although Kiev and Ukraine as a whole does not see much attraction from Western European tourists, we both found the Ukrainian locals very welcoming. Although there was quite a language barrier. The place is one of the cheapest countries in Europe I have ever visited, I left Ukraine with some of the local money left over as I just simply couldn’t spend all the money I had withdrawn, because of the Ukrainian Hryvnia being a closed currency I also couldn’t cash it back in either, so i’ve got about £10 of Ukrainian money left!

I’d heard about the Chernobyl Nuclear PowerPlant accident when I was in Science at School and never thought I would ever go there and see it with my own eyes. If you want an experience you definitely will never forget I seriously recommend booking onto this tour, I also recommend spending a couple of days in Kiev too!

#19 – Italy – First visited 2018

The evening view from the hotel balcony of the Sorrento coast and Mount Vesuvius in the distance – © Lewis Pickthall – 2017

When I found out my cousin was getting married in Sorrento and we all invited to share the moment, I got on SkyScanner and got some flights sorted! Visited in May and it was surprisingly really warm for such an early point in the summer season, which wasn’t as great a plan when you are stood in a 3 piece suit in the boiling sun! It was such a great experience having a wedding abroad and gives me some inspiration of my own 🙂

Everyones has heard of some kind of Italian food and knows what to expect, but when you are there on the ground, it is on another level! Would really like to go back to Italy and visit Venice some day!

#20 – Vatican City – Visited 2018

The tourist packed grounds of the Vatican City, Vatican City – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Whilst in Italy for my cousins wedding, I had booked my flight so I flew into the nearest airport to Sorrento (Naples) and then because I really wanted to visit Rome whilst I was in the country, I booked my outbound flight to leave out of there! After a short transfer back to Naples I then caught the high speed train up to capital!

Whilst there I visited the Vatican! It just so happened to be a Sunday when I visited and the Pope was at home! I briefly caught him talking to the huge crowd from one of the balconies of the chapel.

Was rather disappointed with the Vatican, for such a holy place is appears to have become one big tourist trap, its full of cheap tacky stands and people selling ‘selfie sticks’! There is even a McDonalds just outside of the Vatican State boundary! The architecture is incredible though and well worth seeing!

#21 – Denmark – Visited 2018

The streets of Nyhavn are so nice to sit out on in summer, people pack the streets and sides just drinking and chatting, in Nyhavn, Copenhagen – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

I was really impressed with Copenhagen, such a smart city that is so easy to travel around! There a bikes EVERYWHERE, one little thing I noticed was even on the cycle paths there are little traffic lights!

Also visited the Carlsberg brewery and did the tour, in all honesty its not that great.. its just a self guided tour that most people just rushed through so they could get their free pint at the end!

#22 – Norway – Visited 2018

The jaw dropping view from the top of the observation platform, looking at Vøringfossen and the surrounding area. In Vøringfossen, Norway – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

Coming from an area in the UK of natural beauty I thought before visiting Norway that I just wouldn’t be impressed with landscape of Norway… I was so wrong! The place is just paradise!  Even in the Capital of Oslo, it is such a clean place, two of the highlights for me while travelling around the country were driving through the Laerdal tunnel, which is the longest road tunnel in the world and jumping into one of the Fjords from the top of a very high diving platform.

True to what people say, Norway (and Scandinavia as a whole) is expensive so if you are going to visit Norway, bring a lot of cash!

#23 – Sweden – Visited 2018

Stockholm centre in summer! Its such a pretty city with loads to see and do, in Stockholm, Sweden – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

The nightlife in Stockholm is amazing, I visited shortly after Swedish DJ Avicii had passed away and all the clubs were playing his tracks, he is just an famous and liked in Sweden as he was around the world! Swedish also absolutely love ABBA! Stockholm is a really nice city to just wander around too.

#24 – Finland – Visited 2018

If you have ever seen the music video to Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ then you should recognise these steps from the start! In Helsinki, Finland – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip. Didn’t really spend as much time as I wanted to in Finland, it was merely a stopover point between Sweden and Russia!

To get from Sweden to Finland we were on an overnight cruise which sold dirt cheap beer on it, I just remember being in Helsinki after about 4 hours of sleep, very hungover and struggling to drag myself around the place.

Would love to go back to Finland and see what is in the north of the country!

#25 – Russia – Visited 2018

Have no doubt about it, St Basils cathedral is absolutely incredible to see in real life! The whole of the red square is a privilege to see, especially when not so long ago it would have been nearly impossible for a western tourist to see, in Moscow, Russia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

Really didn’t know how easy it would be getting into Russia, if it was anything like the visa process then it was going to be long and tiresome! It was so worth it when you are there and in the country, St Petersburg and Moscow are both incredible cities and to be stood in Red Square looking at St Basils cathedral is one of the pinch yourself moments!

I was also in Russia whilst the 2018 World Cup that was being held in Russia was taking place, although I didn’t have any match tickets you can go into the fan zones for free which are a superb experience. Also in my time I was able to experience the Ballet in St. Petersburg as well as ride the incredibly detailed Moscow metro!

#26 – Belarus – Visited 2018

The Mount Rushmore look a like ‘Courage’ memorial that has be found at the Brest Fortress, in Brest, Belarus – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

Didn’t really know a lot about Belarus, I don’t know anyone else out of friends, family or people I work with who has visited it. Although one of the poorest countries in Europe, the capital is actually very clean and it has a very safe vibe about the place! The thing that I found the most interesting about the place is all the locals asking the group what we were actually doing here, as so few tourists visit the country.

I would definitely like to go back to Belarus and see some more of this very secret little country. Although at the time I needed a visa to visit, you can now visit visa free for a period of time, so its even more of a reason to go back!

#27 – Austria – Visited 2018

The rather quiet riverside of the Danube river, in Vienna, Austria – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour led by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

Only spent a couple of days in Vienna, its a really nice pretty place to wander around but there isn’t really much going on, I found the place rather boring in all honesty.

If I was to go back to Austria it would have to be to the alp region and try some skiing.

#28 – Slovakia – Visited 2018

The lookout point from the top of Bratislava Castle, taken in Bratislava, Slovakia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I visited in Summer 2018 as part of my Contiki, Scandinavia and Russia tour! A 3 week tour around the Scandinavian region before crossing through Russia and back through eastern Europe to Poland! It was an incredible tour let by a really knowledgeable guide and driver. It was also my longest solo trip.

I visited Bratislava as a day trip from Vienna, its about 45 minutes from capital to capital on a bus and I was really impressed with this it. Its a really nice compact little city with plenty of things to see and do whilst you are there.

Would really like to go back to Bratislava and would definitely recommend it as a place for a stag do!

#29 – Switzerland – Visited 2018

The lookout point from the top of GrossMunster looking out over Zurich, in Zurich, Switzerland – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Visited Zurich over a long weekend to see a friend who lives out there, the city is a really smart place and so picturesque with Lake Zurich to the right of the city.

Make no doubt about it, Zurich is one really expensive place! We both went into a small local bar (nothing special) and 2 burgers/fries and 2 beers was nearly the equivalent of £80!

It is so worth coming here though, even the airport is really smart! There is an observation deck that you can go out to and do a bit of plane stopping if that is your thing. If you go in summer like I did, then it is a perfect opportunity to sit out in the sun while you are waiting for your flight!

#30 – Liechtenstein – Visited 2018

The view of the small city of Vaduz from a look out point near Schalun castle in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

With a bit of free time whilst I was staying in Zurich, I ventured out of the city on one of the incredibly reliable and clean Swiss trains and headed over to Liechtenstein!

This tiny little country is so worth the visit! Although it is a quiet place and you may find not much going on, you really do appreciate the peace and quiet here! The country is so clean as well and everything is kept tidy. Also like its neighbour Switzerland, it is certainly not a cheap place!

If I was in the region again I would make sure to stop off again and see a bit more of Liechtenstein as it is one of Europe’s little treasures!

#31 – United States of America – Visited 2018

View from the ground of Times Square, this place is just heaving with tourists 24/7 but is so worth a visit, in New York City, NY, United States of America – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

My first trip across the Atlantic! Had to make my first place in America to visit NYC!

The city is just as you expect it to be from the photos, a brick and concrete jungle with people everywhere and just so much going on all the time! Amazingly the whole place just seems to work. It has an excellent public transport train system that I used to get around everywhere, even to and from the airport.

Was really impressed with the security of the place, NYPD are on every country and are keen to help tourists out. In every major public building you went in you needed to pass through some kind of security, which definitely puts you at ease when you are in these places.

It is not a cheap city to visit, even as a tourist. Visiting solo and doing some things on the cheap, the trip still cost a fortune!

Visiting NYC has given me a good impression of the USA and really makes me want to visit again, but somewhere else in the country!

I have shared an entire post on my time in NYC, you can find it here

#32 – Vietnam – Visited 2018

The view as you start to walk across the Golden Bridge. This piece is actually located inside of a theme park, but is still impressive to see! in Da Nang, Vietnam – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Visited Vietnam for 2 weeks as part of an organised tour. Flew in Ho Chi Minh City and over the 2 weeks over landed by trains and vans up to Hanoi, detouring for 1 night to Ha Long Bay and sailing around the islands.

The place is stunning to see, the people are really friendly and it is dirt cheap, even in the capital and the touristy areas!

I also turned 25 when I was out in Vietnam which was an interested experience, celebrating your birthday with a group of great people which a couple of weeks ago you hadn’t even met!

Absolutely loved Vietnam and visited here makes me want to go back to South East Asia even more!

#33 – Ireland – Visited 2018

Standing right outside of the very touristy Temple Bar, I did pop in a couple of times during my stay, mainly because my hostel was right next to door so I couldn’t not pass this place to get back of a night! in Dublin, Ireland – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Spent a long weekend over in Dublin mainly to watch Ireland VS USA in the Rugby. Also met up with a friend who was working in Dublin at the time I was over,

Dublin is a crazy expensive city, even in the off tourist areas it is still a pricey place. One thing you cannot beat while you are here though is a proper pint of Guinness!

Would go back again to the Republic of Ireland, just simply to get another proper pint of Guinness!

#34 – Estonia – Visited 2018

Every year, Tallinn has one of the most authentic Christmas markets in Europe and its held in the main square of Tallinn, Estonia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Visited Tallinn, really liked the place. The historic centre is really densely packed and you can see most of it in just a couple of hours! There was a really good Christmas market on in the main square when I was there, with a huge tree right in the middle.

Stayed in a bit of a party hostel when I was there and went on a bar crawl around the capital of an evening. The bars in the centre are really good to go in, a lot of the bars are down in cellars or are just small places.

Would definitely visit Tallinn again, perhaps in Summer next time.

#35 – Latvia – Visited 2018

View from the top of Riga Cathedral, for 8 Euros you can take the list inside and go right up to the top with a 360 degree view of the entire city! in Riga, Latvia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Travelled overland from Tallinn into Riga. The capital is a very raw working city, but it did not feel unsafe in the slightest. The place had a real stag do vibe about it and you saw loads of groups of lads about during the day and night!

I met an Auzzie in Tallinn who was doing a similar route to me so we went out for the night in Riga!

Tried some famous Latvian garlic rye bread whilst I was here that puts anything kind of garlic bread you get in the UK to shame!

Would definitely come back again and would certainly recommend it as a stag destination!

#36 – Lithuania – Visited 2018

View from the top of the Three Crosses hill, in Vilnius, Lithuania – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Travelled overland from Riga, Latvia into Vilnius. The capital is very eastern Europe and very unlike its other Baltic sister capitals!

Not very far away from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, you notice a lot of people speaking Russian/Belorussian and a lot of the signage around the city is in cyrillic as well as English and Lithuanian.

Didn’t really find a great deal to do in the capital, the nightlife scene I found to be very quiet and a lot of the places were not even open of the christmas period, which was when I visited.

Can’t say I would rush back to Lithuania, like I would to Estonia and Latvia.

#37 – The Netherlands – Visited 2018

The entire city of Amsterdam has canals flowing through it, many people actually live on the side of the canals in houseboats, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

I had to transit via Amsterdam Schiphol airport to get to and from the Baltics, as my local airport Manchester had no direct flights operating at the time I was going.

Having never have visited Amsterdam before I had booked my flights purposely so I had a long layover in the city.

Managed to see quite a bit in the time I was in the city, taking advantage of the Hop on Hop off bus and boat routes!

Would definitely want to go back to Amsterdam again and experience the nightlife properly, not just as a sober layover!

#38 – Portugal – Visited 2019

Taken whilst waiting for one of Lisbon’s iconic trams to arrive, the network of trams will pretty much take you to anywhere in the city! – © Lewis Pickthall – 2019

Visited Lisbon in January and was really surprised with how good the weather was for the time of the year, it was hot enough one day that I actually got a little bit sun burnt!

Managed to see a lot of the landmarks and try some of the famous Portuguese wine and cheese whilst I was there. I couldn’t get over how cheap the capital city was, when I arrived I withdrew a bit of cash and still had most of it by the time I left!

The hostel I was staying in had a really good Portuguese dinner on every night which you could try, it was also a good opportunity to mingle with some of the others that were staying.

#39 – San Marino – Visited 2019

View from the top of Monte Titano, the view you see from the top of the small city is incredible and you can see all the way out to the Adriatic Sea of neighbouring Italy, in City of San Marino, San Marino – © Lewis Pickthall – 2019

On the way to Slovenia I ‘detoured’ and travelled down to the small country of San Marino, its not the easiest journey to do.. it took 1 plane, 1 train and 2 busses just to get there and then onto Slovenia took 2 busses and a train!

I stayed in the City of San Marino, it has one of the best views you could see in Europe. You are so high up that you can see right out towards to Adriatic… over 50 miles away!

In terms of attractions there is not a great deal to do in San Marino, but if you are one that appreciates a bit of history, then get yourself here!

#40 – Slovenia – Visited 2019

The view of Lake Bled, taken from the shoreline, even in winter this place attracts a mass of tourists, with many going by boat onto the little island in the middle of the lake, at Bled, Slovenia – © Lewis Pickthall – 2019

Travelled to Ljubljana on a 7 hour FlixBus from Bologna after visiting San Marino.

The capital I found to be very quiet but a really pretty place, I also headed up to Lake Bled one of the days I was here which is absolutely stunning but very touristy.

Being back in the Balkans one thing that I had to try again (I tried it in Croatia) was a Burek, its like a mince meat pastry slice that is so good!

Would consider going back to Slovenia again, but would have to be in the summer.

So wheres next?

With about a dozen countries left in Europe until I have visited them all, one of my goals is to try and visit the rest of them!

I also want to get back out to South East Asia and see a bit more of that region, Auz and New Zealand also appeal to me, as does Japan!

At some point I would like to see more of America and venture down into South America!

In Conclusion…

So hopefully you can see that from this post that there is always something to make out of every place you visit, a lot of the places I have visited the people and the food are often better then the place itself!

Hopefully as I travel to more places, in the future I might be able to share an ’80 Countries Later’ post!

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